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VST captures Eagle Nebula and close companions

Two of the sky’s more famous residents share the stage with a lesser-known neighbour in this enormous three gigapixel image from ESO’s VLT Survey Telescope (VST). On the right lies the faint, glowing cloud of gas called Sharpless 2-54, the iconic Eagle Nebula (Messier 16) is in the centre, and the Omega Nebula (Messier 17) to the left. This cosmic trio makes up just a portion of a vast complex of gas and dust within which new stars are springing to life and illuminating their surroundings.
Credit: ESO

Sharpless 2-54 and the Eagle and Omega Nebula e are located roughly 7000 light-years away — the first two fall within the constellation of Serpens , while the latter lies within Sagittarius. This region of the Milky Way houses a huge cloud of star-making material. The three [nebulae] — indicate where regions of this cloud have clumped together and collapsed to form new stars; the energetic light from these stellar newborns has caused ambient gas to emit light of its own, which takes on the pinkish hue characteristic of areas rich in hydrogen.

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